the police should set guidelines for hostage taking coverage, not media
Palace wants media to have own guidelines on hostage crisis coverage
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang wants media to lay down their own guidelines on covering hostage crises instead of having the government impose prior restraint.
Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma said media should know how to avoid endangering the safety of hostages.
“Our stand is that we should not restrain freedom of expression,” he said.
“We should keep in mind that we fought for freedom for us to express what’s on our minds in this country.”
Coloma said media practitioners should evaluate their coverage during Monday’s hostage crisis at Rizal Park in Manila where eight Hong Kong tourists were killed.
‘Media, not gov’t, should set coverage guidelines’
MANILA, Philippines – It is the media, not the government or the police, which should establish the guidelines on coverage of life-threatening incidents such as hostage-taking, an expert has advised.
“You never want to interfere with covering. But when you come up with voluntary guidelines that people agreed to and try honestly to adhere to, it’s much better than having a government say these are the guidelines, this is how you behave, this is what you do–that really becomes quite onerous,” said Bob Dietz, Program Coordinator for Asia of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), told ANC’s Top Story on Thursday.
The hostage drama started when dismissed police officer Rolando Mendoza hijacked a bus full of tourists in Manila in an attempt to get his job back.
Local and foreign journalists flocked to the Quirino Grandstand to cover the incident. Some were criticized for delivering the critical moments of the crisis.
“When we’re in a middle of a news coverage situation, we’re really going for the best that we can get, especially the people on the street–the cameramen, the producers, the soundmen at that level,” Dietz said.
Dietz, however, pointed out that people back in the newsroom should be the one to decide when to call the shots.
“What has to happen is back here, where there are cooler heads in the newsroom, sort of saying ‘that’s too much’, ‘let’s pull this back’, ‘get these people out of that position’,” Dietz said.
we think it is wrong that the government is asking media to set its own guidelines on media coverage of hostage crisis situations.
a hostage taking is a matter of security and safety, it is a police and law enforcement matter, why is media being asked to develop the guidelines? that is the reason why the police or the military is given the responsibility and the power to take over the whole situation for resolution. among all government agencies, they are also the only group who has the arms, the technical skills and experience in resolving such matters peacefully. in other words, they are the ones who know what is needed and what is not needed to succeed in the resolution of the hostage taking situation.
media does not know anything about such things, what media knows is how to set up the camera to get the best shot, what to say to the audience during the coverage to sustain interest and viewership to their media channel. what they were trained for is how to get the best camera shot possible for great tv or radio. their work mostly has nothing to do with safety and security.
it does not make sense that the government is asking media to develop the guidelines on matter they know nothing about.
the guidelines are meant to make sure the police has free and unhampered reign on the whole situation to be able to satisfactorily resolve the hostage crisis. the guidelines are there for the objective of the police successfully achieving their goal, not for media to do it’s job best. the goals of successfully resolving the hostage crisis and getting the best tv shot are separate and distinct, performed by two very different groups with one, the media negatively affecting the other if they make a mistake.
the guidelines should come from the police, not the media. the police should develop guidelines just like the way they ask the government for new equipment, tools and training to help them become better at what they do and to succeed at achieving their goals. the media guidelines is exactly the same thing as the police setting up a perimeter around the area where the hostage taking is to prevent everyone else from interfering with their work.
one of the top key things the police want is control of the situation and that includes media coverage as that affects the hostage taker, the family and co-conspirators of the hostage taker, copycats and the public.
the thinking behind the malacanang direction is on the wrong places and comes from the wrong perspective. hostage talking guidelines is not about good media relations, it is about life and death. media’s failure only results to lower tv ratings while the failure of the police results to death. there is no comparison at all.
we think malacanang’s media group, one secretary of whom used to work for abs-cbn, is being given too much voice on this matter. it is all wrong.
carlo p arvisu